Assata aka Joanne Chesimard (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Assata aka Joanne Chesimard (2009)

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The story of a real-life miscarriage of justice is framed in a contemporary tale of love and mystery in this independent "docudrama" from veteran filmmaker Fred Baker. Political activist Joanne Chesimard changed her name to Assata Shakur after she became involved with the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, and in 1973 she was accused of murder in the wake of an incident in which a New Jersey state trooper and another Panther lost their lives. While Assata, who was shot by authorities and nearly died in the altercation, was found guilty of the crime in 1977, she and a number of other activists loudly protested her innocence, claiming she had been set up like a number of other African-American activists of the day. Assata was sent to prison, but escaped and eventually fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. Justin (Charles Everett) is a film student at NYU who is working on a documentary about the Assata Shakur case, and one day he meets Asha (Erika Vaughn), a fellow student who is also familiar with the exiled activist. Their shared interests leads to a passionate love affair, but in time Asha decides the next step should be to travel to Cuba and meet Assata herself, something Justin is not prepared to do. Including recreations of Assata Shakur's trail (with director Baker playing attorney William Kunstler), Assata aka Joanne Chesimard also features an appearance by the real-life Assata Shakur and a score by jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

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